Have you joined our LinkedIn group yet?

2 months ago I put out the call and I today I present to you some great news: we’ve just crossed 100 members in the less than 2 months since it went live! There have been some great discussions so far and if you read each conversation you’ll learn something new every time.

Right here, I’m going to highlight 5 great responses from our members, in no particular order:

  1. “What’s your biggest marketing headache in your tour business?” Response by Tung Do

One of the very first questions in the group came from Julia of Xola.com, who helped me set up the group. Who would have known that Tung Do from XOTours would drop this epic bomb:

I run 2 tour businesses. One of them (XO Tours) is a very niche adventure/food/motorbike tour, and we operate entirely online. We do not allow hotels or tour companies to sell our tours, so we rely entirely on online marketing and word of mouth for our success.

Our first couple of years we tried the paid SEO route and while it helped for a little while, once Google changed their algorithm, it really hurt our rankings for all the key terms we were targeting.

The past 2 years, we focused on creating great and unique content on our blog and now we are one of the most popular travel blogs in Vietnam, with over 60,000 unique page views every month. We are ranked #1 or #2 for many major key terms even though they are unrelated to our business. We find this is a great way to promote our brand to people that are searching for useful travel content but do not necessarily know that the types of tours we offer exists. And although there are now many other tour companies offering tours similar to ours, our blog has increased the trust in our brand.

We also have created over 20 fun videos to market our tours, and uploaded them to Youtube and Vimeo. Many of our videos just focus on our employees and how much fun they are. This is something that we think differentiates us from our competitors. In just a few years we have had over 350,000 views for our Youtube video which also drives traffic to our website.

We share our blog content and Youtube videos on Facebook also. It’s not enough to just post pictures of your tours on Facebook, but if you share fun or helpful content, I have found that people will share them.

We will also occasionally promote a post on Facebook for $10-$20 to increase the amount of views. Facebook also recently added the ability to add a call-to-action button to your FB page. I have linked the button to our booking form which allows people to quickly learn about our tours and book through Facebook.

I find that online marketing still works great, if you put the time and effort into doing it. It only took about 6 months for us to really see great results. Our blog now brings in about 70% of our website traffic.”

  1. “How do you drive repeat customers?” Response By Mike Gahan

This was the question from Christabelle Tani from Rezdy fame. Just check out the incredible response from Mike Gahan of SBTaste, a California wine tour company:

I have a wine tour company so for me it was easy. I provide my customers with a 4 bottle wine tote bag with my brand logo stamped on the side, along with a packet they can take wine tasting notes in. Anything I can send home with my customers that they will keep, share and reference again increases their chances of coming back and/or recommending.

I am also in the process of creating a wine club they can sign up for any time before, during or after the tour where they will receive local wines on a subscription basis. Even if they never visit me again, I can keep them as customers in a different avenue.

I realize not everyone has a product they can sell to their customers on a subscription basis. But, say you have a paddle board tour or rental company. Attempt to sign up customers for your weekly newsletter where you send out written and video content all about paddle boarding. Anything to keep your customers engaged long after they leave your place of business will encourage a long term relationship.”

Wow!

  1. “How do you drive repeat customers?” Response By Hamish Gilbertson

Hamish Gilbertson is an online marketing expert from New Zealand. Just check out his contribution:

The trick is to create a customer experience that would drive repeat/ return visits/ bookings regardless of whether people are likely to be able to return or want to repeat an experience. A customer experience that will create brand advocates of all customers.

That means a customer experience that doesn’t end when the stay/ experience is over and starts from initial contact with the brand. Things like:

  1. (Should go without saying, but…) Ensuring that your product is great and customer service is excellent first-time round. Essential but easy to let slip if the assumption is people will only be here/ doing this once.
  2. Promoting the quality of the experience, the brand personality and the level of customer service online. Things like:
    • Being very active on social media… Don’t just promote to prospects; engage with them (follow people who express a relevant interest [set up social media searches to identify people], help with local info, advice on transport options, etc.), and be sure to respond to all mentions of your brand. And actively share people’s experiences of your product (assuming you have their permission) – e.g. retweet images, thank them for feedback, etc.
    • Encourage social sharing of your product… Just going through the trouble of asking people to review you on TripAdvisor can be very valuable.
    • Good testimonials are very valuable website content. But you have to ask for them!
    • Offer a blog / newsletter to capture notable experiences and offer ways for people to stay in touch with you.
    • Follow up by checking in with people after they have experienced your product. For instance, sending an email a little while after customers are with you with a customer survey shows you care regardless of whether they complete the survey. That said: a survey is good way to collect testimonials.

Bottom line: don’t assume that the fact that most of your customers will only use your product once means you shouldn’t treat them like potential repeat visitors.”

Boom!

  1. “How do you drive repeat customers?” Response By Steve Woodall

Steve Woodall is from TourGuys.ca. Given the nature of his walking tour business, aiming for repeat visitors is a bit pointless. Let’s hear how he uses his fresh connections with his guests to generate business:

One word – referrals. I come from a similar business where my window of repeat clientele is very small. One practice we have instituted was handing flyers/ business cards to our guests and asking that if they truly enjoyed the experience, to pass it onto another traveller they meet, or to a hospitality staff member in the city (i.e. Concierge, restaurant server, bartender, etc.). If you can’t get a repeat, you might as well capitalise on their positive view of your company while you have the opportunity. The more people in your market who hear the positive reviews first hand from real travellers, the better the chance they will refer someone to you.”

  1. Mitigating the Impact of Negative Reviews – Response by Marica Brewster

A little while ago I shared a blog post I wrote about the risk of getting hit by a cluster of negative reviews and tumbling down the TripAdvisor rankings.

Marica Brewster from Cajun Encounters had this to say:

I think that negative reviews are inevitable for any business, as there will sometimes be circumstances out of one’s control.

It goes without saying, but for us, our #1 way to combat a bad review is by taking the review seriously – having a defined protocol for monitoring incoming submissions, channeling the issue noted to operations, defining a clear expectation from the team to pull reports and investigate, and assigning a “set” person to contact the guest via message or by phone (if the number is given.) …In many instances, the reviewer is quite understanding when they know that they are “heard” and will sometimes even revise their post. Some will even take it down completely.

In addition, a business may also run a promo or do something special on excursions for the days following a bad review. The good reviews that may arise from that will not contribute much to overall ranking on TA but they will at least push down any negativity.”

Wrapping Up

Make sure to join right here and contribute! Look forward to seeing you inside the group.

 

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